…And in with the New

So, 2012 is here at last! The year of mayoral elections, Olympics, the 29th February, and lots of doom-mongering about the end of the world. Which, actually, seems to have started early with yesterday’s return of bird flu. What joys we have to look forward to…

The start of January is, traditionally, the time that everyone spends denouncing New Year’s resolutions as a load of nonsense. Why make all these pledges you’ll never keep, specifically on the first day of the year? Surely if you want to improve yourself, it shouldn’t be dependent on a certain date?

Well yes, but shut up. Self-improvement is a worth objective whenever, so whilst waiting for New Year to start is dumb, taking advantage of the opportunity to set objectives for the year ahead isn’t. And without further ado, I submit to you dear reader my objectives for 2012:

  • Read more, write more, publish more: 2011 was something of a crap year as far as my publishing went. One story published at the start of the year, and one acceptance at the end. Not really good enough. So since my story “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” will be shortly printed in the Night Terrors II anthology, I want to start off on that foot. Writing, submitting and publishing. I have several ideas for short stories, a novella underway, and am a few chapters into Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”.
  • Take second place in the May elections: the Rememnham, Wargrave and Remenham by-election I stood in last year saw a good showing for the Labour vote. A strong third place, with a weak turnout. In May the same seat will be up again for re-election, and I hope to get the Labour nomination (I can’t see much competition for it). I’m a realist, so my aim is to take second place off the Lib Dems, but of course a surprise landslide victory would be very welcome!
  • Find a job: I’m currently still volunteering with Political Scrapbook, as I have been for several months. It’s a lot of fun, very convenient and I’ve learnt a lot, but I have a rather powerful need for a proper job promptish. So I want a decent job by the end of the year, so I can start saving and get my life and career on track post-university.
  • Go to FantasyCon 2011: Since I’m finally a member of the BFS, I’m going to FantasyCon, and no one can bloody stop me! It’ll be a fantastic dose of inspiration, I’ll get to go back to Brighton, and I’ll meet so many of the genre writers I admire (I already owe Gary McMahon a drink!)
  • Go to the Labour Party Conference: I was gutted to miss this in 2011. Liverpool is my favourite city in the country, and I would have loved to have gone. This year is Manchester, so still my old stalking grounds, and I’m going.  Whether as Maidenhead CLP delegate or just as a party member, I’m not really too bothered.

So there we have it. What I want from 2012. And if I can get through it hearing a minimum number of ranters going on about the end of the world, so much the better.

Happy new year to you all!

Stranger in a Strange Land

Team Binnie, ready to pound the streets of Windsor in pursuit of a Labour victory.

Yesterday, I went canvassing with the lovely people at Windsor Labour Party. It was cold, windy, and it even snowed, but it was still brilliant to be out on the streets of Windsor, putting leaflets through doors and trying to drum up support for our candidate in the Park ward bye-election, Laura Binnie.

The bye-election itself has been called not, as the Tories would have everyone believe, because the previous councillor got married and moved away. No, this guy turned up to only one meeting in the last year, and the Tories wanted him out of the way prior to the local elections in May. So he’s basically buggered off after doing sod all, and taking the taxpayers’ money for the pleasure.

But the whole event got me thinking; Labour don’t really stand much of a chance in the bye-election. Laura is a great candidate (who, if she’s elected, won’t be taking her allowance), and the Tory candidate is a 21-year-old student with no experience and clear aspirations to be a career politician. But because of the area, the odds are still stacked against us.

It’s no different here in Wargrave. Down in Brighton Labour is a real force, and the party is a thriving. Up here, it’s just the few and the faithful. Coming from an area which is predominately Labour (Warrington), when I first arrived here the experience of being in Tory country was strange and dissociating. Even though I wasn’t overtly political back then, I was painfully aware that most people around here were not the same as me in some way.

But since I joined Labour, seeing the raw enthusiasm of the party members around here has been inspirational. It’s given me a realisation that the steepness of the hill isn’t what’s important. It’s not just the hope of reaching the top that keeps us climbing, but because it’s who we are. In less impenetrably metaphorical terms, we aren’t party members only when we think we can win, but rather because we believe certain things and would believe them no matter where we were.

And in the end, maybe there’s more value in being a Stranger in a Strange Land, a red in a land of blue. Up in the North West, there’s less call for Labour activists. Down in Tory heartland is where we need to get the message out, that there is an alternative, a fairer way to run the country. And when we do make our breakthrough, it will be all the sweeter for the effort.

So here’s to the Windsor Labour team. If you’re a registered voter in Park ward, Windsor, then get yourself out to the polling station on Thursday 6th, and vote for Laura Binnie. Each vote can make a difference.

Back to the Grindstone

It's good to be back!

It’s that time again. As of today, I’m back in the lovely city of Brighton, and back to work at the University of Sussex.

This is my third and final year, so it actually counts. Meaning I have to really put the effort in, right up to the end. This is not going to be easy. Right now, I’ve had my first lecture of the year (Law of Evidence), and have near-bankrupted myself buying books for the year. But I feel energised and ready to learn.

It probably won’t last long. This same feeling has struck at the beginning of the previous two years. I start off all wide-eyed, ready to debate and learn and participate. It wears off after I end up mired in the endless reading lists, my vow that this year I’ll keep up with it receding into the distance behind me.

But still, I’m going to give it my best shot. This year the choice of subjects was my own, rather than the universities, and unlike most of my fellow students, I chose subjects I thought would be enjoyable. It’ll probably come back and bite me in the arse when I come to be looking for jobs, but at the moment I’m just revelling in the prospect of a year studying Law of Evidence, Family Law, and Law and Politics in the UK and US. And writing a dissertation on the Law of Treason.

The real panic will come in a few months, when I realise that I have no clue what I want to do when I leave university. But that’s a problem for later. For now, I’m enjoying my course, I’m enjoying my writing, and I’m really enjoying having been welcomed so warmly into the Labour Party. Life, at the moment, is looking up.